This article argues that the symbolic borders of Europe and the existence of external Others have been at times more important than Europe's center or its actual physical boundaries, especially during the first decades after the foundation of the European Communities. Analyzing textual and visual sources taken from some ninety French, Italian, and German history textbooks published between 1950 and 2005, the various sequences in which European integration has been constructed are highlighted. Communism, the first external Other, provided the first minimum common denominator for a nascent political Europe. It was not until the end of the Cold War that a projection of a distinct European identity appeared. Nevertheless, the role of new external Other(s) remains important for the evolution of the discourse of a European identity. This article draws attention to the Others, seeking to embed the Others' perspective in narratives of Europe.
Michael A. Di Giovine
It has become a Structuralist truism in the social sciences to state that individuals define themselves by what they are not. It has equally become evident that travel—and particularly the voluntary, temporary, and perspectival type that we call tourism—is predicated on interaction with the Other. Travelogues are particularly salient “social facts” in this regard, for they both index such processes of identity formation, as well as contribute to them. Two edited volumes, Rolf-Hagen Schulz-Forberg's Unraveling Civilisation: European Travel and Travel Writing (2005) and John Zilcosky's Writing Travel: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Journey (2008) provide compelling examples of how the multifarious and complementary processes of travel and travel writing not only index, but construct, European identity.
The European Union has been in its biggest ever crisis since the onset of the Greek sovereign debt crisis in 2010. Beyond the political and economic dimensions, the crisis has also sparked discussions about Germany's European identity. Some scholars have argued that Germany's behavior in the crisis signals a continuation of the process of “normalization” of its European identity toward a stronger articulation of national identity and interests, that it has “fallen out of love” with Europe. This article will seek to reassess these claims, drawing on detailed analysis of political and media discourse in Germany—from political speeches through to both broadsheet and tabloid newspapers. It will argue that the crisis is understood broadly as a European crisis in Germany, where the original values of European integration are at stake. Furthermore, the crisis is debated through the lens of European solidarity, albeit with a particular German flavor of solidarity that draws on the economic tradition of ordoliberalism. Rather than strengthening expressions of national identity, this has resulted in the emergence of a new northern European identity in contrast to Greece or “southern Europe.”
A Theoretical Approach
What are the myths of Europe? This article provides the conceptual framework through which this question may be approached. It begins by defining myth in such a way as to distinguish it from other forms of political symbolism and points to the distinction between cultural and political myths. From here, the relationship between mythical and historical narratives is analyzed via a study of how the main narrative cores through which Europeans have perceived themselves have worked in different periods and contexts as both. It concludes with a more detailed analysis of some of the icons that convey the myths of Europe.
Mary N. Hampton
This article analyzes the differences in U.S., EU, and German perceptions of threat. The secularist and cosmopolitan turns in EU European identity formation have had a tremendous impact on how security issues are interpreted, especially in Germany. The traditional conception of threat has been re-defined. Yet, recent events are threatening the success forged through a half century of EU elite-driven culture change. Renationalization and a return to defining threat as fear of strangers have emerged across the EU.
On the Phenomenon of Communist Nostalgia in Slovenia and Poland
The article examines the phenomenon of communist/post-socialist nostalgia, with a focus on Slovenia and Poland, through the central issue of identity, memory and the concrete manifestations of nostalgia. The emergence of a somewhat distinct 'Eastern European' identity and the East--West divide in historical and cultural terms is explored through several historical events of the European project between the World Wars. The revival of the communist brands, commercial products, symbols, music and film is the core of the communist 'renaissance', witnessing mainly the need for encountering the past, the selectiveness of memory and the right and emotional need to value one's own personal history and past.
The European Civil Society Platform for Intercultural Dialogue
This article examines the development of cultural policy recommendations, in the form of “soft law,” by the Civil Society Platform for Intercultural Dialogue, a nascent European civil society collaboration aiming to make culture a separate political endeavor within the context of European integration. Drawing on fieldwork among European bureaucrats and members of European civil society in Brussels, Belgium, the article offers an alternative discussion from common understandings of soft law, paying close attention to law as an aesthetic form that challenges dominant modes of policy-making. An investigation of soft forms of law provides a useful perspective to those who attempt to define, locate, and create European identity.
Revitalising and Reframing a 'Christian' Continent
Peter Jan Margry
In the economic and political unification process of Europe, the idea of the creation of a pan-European identity was put high on the political agenda. With the failure of this effort, the emphasis shifted to the apparently less fraught concept of 'shared cultural heritage'. This article analyses how the politically guided rediscovery of Europe's past has contributed to the creation of a 'Religion of Heritage', not only by raising up a political altar for cultural heritage, but also through the revitalisation, instrumentalisation and transformation of the Christian heritage, in order to try to memorialise and affirm a collective European identity based on its Christian past. In the context of this process, the network of European pilgrims' ways appears to have been an especially successful performative form of heritage creation, which has both dynamised Christian roots as a relevant trans-European form of civil religion that has taken shape, capitalising on the new religious and spiritual demands created by secularisation, and responded to the demand for shared - and Christian inspired - European values and meanings in times of uncertainty and crisis.
Anthropological Perspectives on the Process of European Integration
After the fall of the Iron Curtain a new concept of Europe as a socially relevant object of study emerged in the social sciences challenging the model of Europe as historical entity, or a philosophical or literary concept. This concept provoked an upsurge of interest in the study of European identity among anthropologists who began to study how Europeanness is constructed and articulated both by the architects of the EU themselves and at a grass-root level. Drawing on notions of European culture and identity, this text examines the image of Europe/the EU in post-communist Europe, particularly in the Czech Republic, from two different perspectives. First, how the institutionalisation of Europe as a cultural idea is viewed by some of the Czech political commentators, and second, from an ethnographically grounded anthropological perspective, focusing on how and at what levels a Czech local community identifies with Europe and the EU. Drawing on a broad range of data, the text attempts to provide new insights into the pitfalls of collective European identity in the making, with the emphasis on its cultural dimension in the post-communist Czech Republic.
Eugen Weber's Peasants into Frenchmen has had an enduring impact on historians of European nationalism. This article situates Weber's influence on the field of nationalism and focuses on regions that played a crucial role in his analysis: peripheries. Peripheries are central to historians studying the construction of the French nation and the forging of contemporary European identity. Scholars have moved beyond Weber by developing a dynamic model of the relationship between center and periphery, and they have paid close attention to the relationship between regional and national identities. While the field of nationalism has evolved substantially since Weber's time, the questions he posed over thirty years ago still lie at the center of scholarly concerns.